Volcanic activity comes in many forms, from trickles of lava to violent explosions that spew rocks, ash, and gas many miles into the air.
Fortunately, most of Earth’s 500 active volcanoes are carefully monitored, and scientists can usually provide some advance warning before an eruption.
If you travel, work, or live near a volcano, you are always at risk.
Below are some useful tips for surviving volcanic eruptions:
1. Get a topographical map of the region around the volcano and plan an exit strategy;
2. Study the topographical map carefully and plot out alternative routes of escape;
3. Always carry plenty of drinkable water in your vehicle;
4. Always have a full tank of gas. If it drops below half a tank, refill it;
5. Listen for radio or TV advisories when an eruption is anticipated. Have a FM/SW radio with fresh batteries so you can monitor weather channels;
6. Leave the area promptly if instructed to do so;
7. Relocate to higher ground. Lava flows, mudflows and flooding are common in a major eruption;
8. Avoid breathing poisonous gases. They can kill you in minutes. Have self-contained breathing devices in your vehicle for emergency use. Ask EMTs or firefighter what type of equipment to purchase;
9. If you live near an active volcano and a respirator or mask are unavailable, moisten cotton fabric to cover your nose. This strategy will protect your lungs from clouds of ash;
10. Put as many miles as you can from an erupting volcano;
11. Seek safety in a strong building, and seal duct tape around all windows and doors;
12. Driving through heavy ash is dangerous. Visibility is limited, the roads become slippery, and the car radiator can get clogged. Keep your headlights on, proceed slowly, and watch your car for overheating;
13. You rarely can outrun a lava flow, but you may be able to avoid them, especially by climbing to higher ground. NEVER try to cross a lava flow. Flows that appear to be cooled may simply have formed a thin crust over a core of extremely hot lava;
14. If you attempt to cross a lava flow, you risk being trapped by another suddenly developed flow;
15. Do not attempt to cross geothermal areas. Failure could result in serious burns or death;
16. The best way to ensure surviving a volcanic eruption is to live at least 10 miles away. Fifty miles is even better; and
17. For a review of some of the world’s worst natural disasters, please visit: